The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided most US households with one-time economic impact payments to mitigate the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service was responsible for distributing the payments, which were rapidly deposited into bank accounts or later mailed to recipients. New mechanisms were established to send payments to people who typically do not file income tax returns.
In this brief, we draw on data from the first wave of the Urban Institute’s Coronavirus Tracking Survey to estimate the share of adults ages 18 to 64 who reported their families received the economic impact payments as of mid-to-late May 2020 and examine why others did not receive the payment. Nearly 7 in 10 adults reported receiving the economic impact payments, but there were significant disparities by income, race/ethnicity, and family citizenship status in payment receipt. Among those who were potentially eligible for the payment but did not report receipt, 38 percent will receive the payment only by applying on the IRS web portal or by filing an income tax return in 2021. However, many nonrecipients do not have a bank account or access to the Internet—both barriers to receiving timely payments.